How £72-Per-Week Plumber Sam Trickett Became A $20m Poker Player
Back in 2006, Sam Trickett was a teenager earning minimum wage as a plumber, dreaming of a career as a professional footballer.
He played the local fruit machines and, after a while, began to figure when they would pay out.
He travelled around his the town of Retford in Nottinghamshire to win money from all the pubs - when a friend asked him to go down to their local to play a game of cards.
Now, at 33, Sam is married and has earned $20 million (£15.3m) playing the card game - that turned out to be poker - once picking up $10m (£7.7m) in a single tournament, making him one of the most successful poker players on the globe. Pretty impressive, right?
Speaking exclusively to LADbible, he says: "I went down to that pub and played for the first time. I didn't know the rules or anything; I just tried to do as best I could and did alright.
"The week after I played again and made the final. I realised that I'd improved from the first time I played. The second time I played, it was starting to get more obvious what the right decisions were, and I figured out that everyone else wasn't that good. It spurred me on to play more."
Sam recalls a tournament that took place a few weeks after he started playing. It turned out to be a defining moment.
"It was £20 to buy into the tournament and the winner would get £250 or £300 or something like that," he remembers.
"I wasn't doing so well, so my ex-girlfriend lent me £200 for that night. I said I'd pay it back the week after when I got paid.
"I won the tournament and paid her back the same night. I couldn't really afford to play back then. At the time it was a big poker game. The pressure was on, I didn't have any money and I was getting £72 a week from my job."
Initially, Sam wanted to become a footballer, but an injury stopped him in his tracks shortly before he discovered poker. He knew he needed something 'to fall back on' so he started to learn how to do gas engineering.
He explains: "I did two years learning how to play poker while I was working - I passed absolutely everything but all I needed to do was send off a picture of me to get my registration card, and I never did it because poker was going alright.
"In the back of my head I was like: 'Well, I know that's all I need to do so I'll do it when I need to.' I was so laid-back with stuff like that. So I never actually got the card sent through."
By the time he was 20, Sam was a fully-fledged professional poker player, travelling the world and competing in some of the biggest tournaments on the circuit.
Fast forward to 2013, just seven years after he started playing, and Sam was about to take on the first ever Big One for One Drop in Las Vegas - a No Limit Texas hold 'em tournament hosted at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The buy in was a record-breaking $1 million (£770k).
He finished the tournament in second place, securing more than $10 million (£7.7m) in winnings.
Financially, this was by far his biggest win - but on a personal level things were slightly bitter.
He said: "When you come second you don't get the same feeling of triumph, so it was a little bit disappointing."
If you're thinking it was a smooth path to success... you'd be wrong. At one stage, he ended up losing everything he had - within a period of six to 12 months - after 'making bad choices, playing in bad games and being over generous with my friends'.
"Before I knew it I had no money again and I was broke," he said. "My girlfriend left me. I didn't know how I'd managed to mess it all up.
"I was going to buy trainers and I remember getting refused because my bank card didn't work, I was at such a low point. The trainers were £80 and I couldn't afford them."
Fortunately, that's when Sam was offered an opportunity to go and teach people how to play poker in Cape Town, South Africa, which he describes as the 'standout moment that changed my whole life'.
The time he spent in Cape Town gave Sam the chance to reflect on the game he had come to love. Having learned some tough life lessons, he waved goodbye to his habit of going out, partying for five days straight and spending upwards of $15,000 (£11,500) each time.
He met Mieke, the woman who would become his wife, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and now he prefers to lead 'the simple life'.
Reflecting on his partying days, he concludes: "It was good fun and I wouldn't change a thing but after I got married, I knocked it all [partying] on the head.
"It all paid off, so it was all worth it I suppose. All that money I wasted - it was all worth it in the end because I met my wife."
The nights out might be behind him but Sam has no plans to retire just yet. As well as working as a global ambassador for partypoker, he will be in the World Series in Vegas this year and also travel with the MILLIONS partypoker tour.
"I can't wait to play the World Series later this year and travel with partypoker," he concluded. "I'm looking forward to the next few years."
Featured Image Credit: Sam Trickett